November 2016 NewsNotes
Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace
It is hard to know where to start. The U.S. election looms with little thought being given to how a country so divided before votes are cast will be able to reconcile in order to work together for the common good.
The U.K. wonders where BREXIT will lead though it is clear that immigrants will not be as welcome as before. The decline in the British pound means tighter belts and budgets throughout the UK.
We see a massive demonstration for indigenous rights, for Earth and water in North Dakota, but mainstream press only tells one side of the story, if they even acknowledge the story at all. Hundreds are jailed for trying to preserve our planet.
The refugee camp at Calais will be emptied as of today, or so we are told. The two week process of emptying and destroying the camp has not gone smoothly. Friends we met there are now scattered throughout France and few know their fate. We celebrate with the small number who achieved their dream of reaching the U.K.
It is easy to feel powerless in the face of threats of violence, injustice and destruction of our planet.
What the experience in Calais affirmed in me was the value of what Pope Francis calls "the art of accompaniment" (Joy of the Gospel 169-173). He describes being present to others who are marginalized "without judgement...removing the sandals from our feet in honoring the sacred ground of the other... deep listening to the other... docility to the Spirit."
I could not help but to be grateful for how the CSJP congregation, itself being docile to the Spirit, has prepared each of us to practice the art of accompaniment. From our Chapter in 2008, focusing on care for creation and nonviolence, assemblies and retreats where we engaged in contemplative listening and presence, and our Chapter Call to radical hospitality in company with poor and marginalized people we have been learning the skills of accompaniment.
I hope this edition of NewsNotes gives you an opportunity to engage your skills in accompaniment with someone affected by one of the many looming crisis facing our world. The Spirit has called us to that work, and has been preparing us for it.
Peace through Justice Facilitator
- Calais Update
- Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
- Standing with Standing Rock Sioux Water Protectors
- BREXIT Fallout
- Catholic Climate Covenant
- Tell Obama to Stop Giving Away Public Lands and Water to Fossil Fuel Companies
- Palm Oil
- UN Votes to Ban Nuclear Weapons
On Monday, October 24, the time had come. Calais officials had run out of patience with the presence of the refugee camp and its residents. Refugees from the Jungle queued up at dawn to await registration before being loaded into buses (they could choose between one of two destinations). The refugees would be transported to smaller villages in groups of about 50 where their paperwork for asylum could be processed more rapidly. Refugees could also choose to return to their country of origin. Some refugees will like be moved to the first country in Europe where they left their fingerprints (Italy, Hungary etc.) France does not usually grant permanent asylum. A grant of asylum can be for a few months, a few years or up to ten years.
The Jungle camp in Calais was quickly destroyed. Demolition began by French officials on Wednesday, October 26 and was accelerated by fires set by refugees who did not want their homes to fall into possession by others. Notice was received on Friday
that the Orthodox church structure, one of the last remaining structures was to be demolished on Friday
afternoon at 4 PM
. It lasted into this week.
The effort to remove refugees did not go smoothly. Some 200 unaccompanied youth were denied access to buses on Wednesday and could not go back to the camp that was burning. They were left to the mercies of charitable organization but had to sleep "rough" (in the open air) Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Many were placed in temporary structures by Friday. On Wednesday, 11/2 most young people were transported to one of 60 scattered relocation centers throughout France.
Members of many charitable organizations, including Maria Skobtsova house, did all they could to protect the human dignity of the refugees. Police were difficult to work with. Youth were being arrested. People of color were being stopped at train and bus stations around Calais and were required to show ID. This has not been normal in France. The situation remains difficult. At least two of the young refugees left behind (one in Maria Skobtsova house) have attempted suicide over this past weekend.
France is not the only nation to blame in the plight of these refugees. Most Jungle refugees wanted to go to England. The anti-immigrant wave in Britain brought about the BREXIT vote which further empowered the anti-immigrant elements in the UK power structures. Even youth from the Jungle who were qualified under existing law to enter the UK were delayed and many are not yet accepted to England and are now spread out throughout France.
Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, supporting followup on the April Nonviolence Just Peace Conference at the Vatican is offering the 4th in a series of webinars. Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi UK
will be one of the presenters. The webinar will be held on Friday, November 18th 9-10 AM
Eastern time, 2-3 PM
in the UK. You can register for the webinar here.
Standing With Standing Rock Sioux Water Protectors
The gathering of Native Americans and other indigenous tribes on the shores of the Cannonball river in North Dakota is the largest gathering of native tribes in 500 years and receives virtually no mainstream media coverage. The water protectors oppose the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their tribal lands and across or under their sacred waters, particularly the Missouri River.
Their organizing addresses many justice issues:
- The rights of all persons to clean water
- The rights of indigenous people to the use of their land
- The ongoing abuse of the rights of indigenous peoples to control land and water granted under treaties with the U.S. government
- Obligations of the U.S. under the Paris Climate agreement to keep limit the burning of fossil fuels and to keep more fossil fuels in the ground
- Use of militarized police, and corporate hired mercenaries against nonviolent water protectors
Today, November 3rd, is a day of Prayer for the water protectors. Over 600 faith based leaders are headed to The Standing Rock Sioux lands to join in prayer for and with the water protectors. It is noted that there has been a limited Catholic presence at the campgrounds. The USCCB will not make any statement until help is requested by the local bishop. Nevertheless, Catholics are represented among the 400 faith leaders heading to North Dakota for days of prayer.
The water protectors intend to stay encamped in the path of the pipeline through the winter or until the pipeline is stopped. They need support and supplies.
Here are a list of ways you can stand in solidarity with the standing rock water protectors.
Call for the permit to build the pipeline to be rescinded:
Offer support to the Sacred Stone Camp
Tell the executives of Energy Transfer Partners L.P. to stop the pipeline
Start or join in events in your area:
Everyone is invited to join in the Nov 3 prayer at 9 AM central time (3 PM-UK, 10 AM-East, 7 AM-Pacific).
Roundup of Christian community responses to Standing Rock
Prime Minister Theresa May is moving ahead with plans for the UK to leave the European union, a Union originally created in the hope of keeping peace throughout Europe. As mentioned above it has implications for the resettlement of youth who are qualified to enter the UK under the Dubs amendment.
Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to stay part of the European Union. It sounds likely that Scotland will look for another opportunity to vote for its independence.
The Northern Ireland situation will be more complicated either way. No one in Ireland would relish the restoration of active border guards between the borders of Northern Ireland and the Republic. Reports from a conference held in Dublin hosted by Irish PM Enda Kenny on November 2, reports suggested there will be no effort to reinstate border controls between the North of Ireland and the Republic. The fear is that such reintroduction of border checkpoints would threaten the peace that now exists between the Republic and the North. The hope was that border controls would occur at ports and airports within the UK proper. The question of where passports would be necessary was not resolved. Northern Irish First Minister Arlene Foster - who supported Brexit - refused to take part, describing the forum as a waste of time.
The BREXIT vote could hasten the unification of Ireland, however even the Northern Ireland ministers most in favor of such reunification realize that the North of Ireland is not yet ready to pass a vote for independence from England.
British banks are advertising "Brexit rate" 30 year mortgage loans to U.S. homeowners at 2.75%.
Catholic Climate Covenant
The following notice comes to us from the LCWR Justice office.
In late 2015, leaders from around the world came together in Paris to agree on a path toward global carbon reductions. Significantly reducing carbon emissions will protect poor and vulnerable populations and our common home from the most harmful impacts of climate change. Now, it's time for the United States to live up to its end of the bargain!
Please sign Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC) petition to congressional leaders and urge them to keep the commitment made by the U.S. As people of faith, we know that by working together, we can achieve progress towards a greater good.
We will be delivering the petitions to leaders on Capitol Hill on November 15.
Tell Obama to Stop Giving Away Public Lands and Waters to Fossil Fuel Companies
President Obama has less than 100 days left in office. We don't know who will be in office next year, but we do know the current administration wants to leave a lasting climate legacy. However, since President Obama took office, over 10 million acres of public lands and over 15 million acres of public offshore waters in the Gulf have been turned over to energy companies for fossil fuel extraction. This is not the right direction for the President to be leading our country if he wants to be taken seriously.
People across the country have been demanding that the president protect our health, preserve wildlife habitat, and follow through on his climate commitment. Thousands have protested and made phone calls, and over 1 million people have signed petitions and submitted public comments. And now, the time to act is running out. We've joined with a coalition of dozens of organizations counting down the days President Obama has to establish a real climate legacy, and stop the corporate giveaway. He could do it today.
For a while now, we've been receiving notices from different online progressive groups opposing one company or anther's use of palm oil in their products. So what is the problem?
Palm oil is found in roughly half the packaged products sold in grocery stores, including favorite snack foods like ice cream, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, cereals, doughnuts and potato chips. Its popularity has increased because it is used to replace controversial trans fats in the production of the snack foods.
Palm oil comes from the fruit of the African Palm tree which has been spread across Indonesia, which is now the largest exporter of palm oil. Extraction of palm oil is a leading cause of deforestation which has several negative effects:
rain forest deforestation is a cause of ten percent of greenhouse gas emissions;
the forests being destroyed are the home to many other species that are now threatened including Sumatran orangutans, elephants and rhinos;
indigenous people are forced to move when their forest homes are destroyed;
Human slavery is involved in some efforts to extract palm oil.
The good news is that several companies have pledged to remove conflict palm oil from their product lin. Included are: Kellogg's, Mars, Mondelez (formerly Nabisco), Hershey's, General Mills, ConAgra, Smucker's, Krispy Crème, Dunkin' Brands and Groupo Bimbo.
Some companies are still resistant to eliminating conflict palm oil from products among them are: Restaurant Brands (Burger King), PepsiCo and Kraft/Heinz.
Starbucks has pledged 100% use of sustainable palm oil by 2015 but has not fully adhered to their pledge. 'Sum of Us' offers a way to ask Starbucks to live up to their pledge. To do so, click here
Using this link
, you can tell Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brand International, to adopt a no deforestation policy in its global supply chains.
Proctor and Gamble (Head and Shoulders, Covergirl, Gillette) purchases palm oil from Felda Global Ventures that uses trafficked labor in its Malaysian plantations. You can sign a petition telling Proctor and Gamble to end slavery in its supply chain here
UN Votes to Ban Nuclear Weapons
On October 27, 2016 the United Nations adopted a landmark resolution
to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. This historic decision heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts. 123 nations voted in favor of the resolution, with 38 against and 16 abstaining.
There are still more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, mostly in the arsenals of just two nations: the United States and Russia. Seven other nations possess nuclear weapons: Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
Most of the nine nuclear-armed nations voted against the UN resolution. Many of their allies, including those in Europe that host nuclear weapons on their territory as part of a NATO arrangement, also failed to support the resolution.
But the nations of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, and are likely to be key players at the negotiating conference in New York next year.
The word that Isaiah son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
Behold my mountain
touching high heaven,
the temple of God crowning all!
In that place,
the nations shall converge
"Come join with us
that Yahweh may teach us godly ways
as we walk in his paths!"
In that day, Arbiter over all,
God will judge the nations.
They will beat their swords into plowshares,
their spears into pruning knives.
"Come, let us walk
in the light of Yahweh!"
Isaiah, 2:1-5 Translation by Daniel Berrigan, S.J.